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Jonathan Yeardley – Volunteer at ECN Snowdon

Environmental Conservation graduate Jonathan Yeardley describes his experience of voluntary work at ECN Snowdon in North Wales.

Jonathan Yeardley - ECN Snowdon volunteerI am a graduate of Bangor University in BSc Hons Environmental Conservation. After graduating, I was fortunate enough to volunteer with the Natural Resources Wales staff at ECN Snowdon team on a regular, weekly basis. I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this incredible experience and have learned so much more than I expected, from the wide range of fieldwork sampling to the laboratory skills and practices. It has allowed me to work with extremely knowledgeable and welcoming people, who have helped me and continue to support me in my professional development. This role has further fuelled my keen interest in climate change, and the effects it has on biodiversity. I have helped assist in particular sampling techniques, which has allowed me to see first-hand some of the impacts climate change is having on the ecosystem.

Jonathan Yeardley - changing diffusion tubes, ECN Snowdon

I have now been involved with ECN for 10 months, and particularly enjoy the different challenges it brings, working in difficult weather conditions and over a range of seasons. When I started volunteering in November 2014, I quickly became involved in the many and varied fieldwork sampling methods, learning

More recently in the summer season, I have helped to conduct butterfly transects, recording all sightings on behalf of the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. I have also collected samples from frog ponds in order to monitor the time length of metamorphosis and tadpole development, and recorded numbers and locations of mountain goats and sheep on the skills such as recording climatic data from the weather station and understanding how to use the equipment, e.g. collecting soil waters using soil solution lysimeters. I was also introduced to the different cloud types using the cloud classifications identification guide. As the conditions on the sample site of Snowdon are conducive for fungi to grow, I took part in fungi counts, learning names of all the species present on Snowdon.

Wildflower at ECN Snowdon. Photo: J. YeardleyMy knowledge of wildflowers has greatly increased with the help and knowledge of the team. Over a short time I have vastly improved my identification skills and am able to identify many alpine plants. Finding out about the unique plants and vegetation on Snowdon has kindled my interest in wildflowers.

Laboratory work has allowed me to learn many new skills, such as processing water samples collected from soils and filtering fresh water samples, whilst also recording pH and electrical conductivity levels. Through this, I have learned how to identify certain pollutants and measures that can be recorded. I have used microscopes to identify and segregate spittle bugs according to gender and colour morph. I have used a pipette to accurately ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­acidify a sub-sample for chemical analysis.

Jonathan Yeardley working in a fume cupboard at Natural Resources Wales

As I have developed professionally, I have become a valued member of the team, making a real contribution towards their ongoing studies on Snowdon.

Jonathan Yeardley
Bangor University Graduate
BSc Hons Environmental Conservation


Tragically, Jonathan lost his life in a car accident in May 2016. We are extremely grateful for all his help at ECN Snowdon, and know he will be missed by all who knew him, including the ECN staff at Natural Resources Wales who enjoyed working with him over his 16 month deployment. 


Further information


Photo credits

All © Vic Bowmaker, NRW except purple saxifrage: © Jonathan Yeardley